Don’t believe everything you hear about Millennials in the workplace.
Lazy. Entitled. Self-interested. Chances are, you’ve heard these descriptors attached to Millennials – particularly when it comes to the workplace. The truth is, there are countless negative myths and stereotypes out there facing this generation as they enter the workplace – and enter with a bang. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce in the next 10 years.
With that in mind, it’s important that businesses take time to understand this generation so they can properly train and mentor them, in turn empowering them to effectively contribute to the economy.
What won’t help business (or Millenials, for that matter), are negative stereotypes or generalizations. In fact, they’ll ultimately impede your path to success.
Here are some of the biggest Millennial myths, along with tips on managing them in the workplace:
Myth #1: Millennials are lazy and entitled
The most prevailing myth is that Millennials are “lazy,” “entitled” and want “participation trophies.” Stop already, please! For your own benefit. A recent Gallop survey showed that Millennials have the same ideas for workplace satisfaction as other workers. A 2016 study by Manpower Group found that 73 percent of Millennials work more than 40 hours per week, with the average working around 45. The authors of the study concluded that Millennials are working “as hard, if not harder, than other generations.” So why are they always characterized as lazy? The answer seems to be that Millennials define work and productivity differently than other generations. For example, Millennials use technology to automate and streamline organizational processes to make their jobs easier. Old folks might view that as laziness, while Millennials see it as a method to boost productivity. According to a PwC study, 75 percent of Millennials believe technology makes them more effective at work, while 50 percent said their managers don’t understand the technologies they’re using. Not surprisingly, the study’s authors concluded that “technology is often a catalyst for intergenerational conflict in the workplace, and many Millennials feel held back by rigid or outdated working styles.”
Millennials and older generations define “the workday” differently. For us (old people), the “work day” is the time we’re physically present in the workplace For Millennials, however, being connected by technology means they can work from virtually anywhere at any time. Throughout time, older generations tend to see younger generations as lazy and entitled – even yours and mine. The biggest difference here is that Millennials are not afraid to ask for what will keep them happy in the workplace. Maybe that’s because they watched their parents tirelessly work jobs without receiving recognition or essential employee benefits. Whatever the case, the “demands” aren’t all that demanding, really. Millennials desire a stronger work-life balance which requires businesses to offer flexibility. In fact, many Millennials would give up a higher paying job for a job that offers lower pay but with this flexibility. This is probably the first generation to take “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” as a commandment, as opposed to a cliché. Hey, more power to them.
Millennials are also more concerned with social and civic responsibilities, both on a corporate level and individually –sometimes to the point they won’t work for a company they feel benefits from practices that exploit people or the environment. This attitude has inspired (or forced) many companies toshift their culture to create better relationships with their people, the community and the environment.
Myth #2: Millennials only care about getting “likes” on social media
If you’re my age, you (very clearly) remember a time before social media. But Millennials have been using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat their entire lives! This means they basically grew up showcasing their lives to their friends. Today people of all generations are on these platforms, but it’s really Millennials who have shaped Social media. They are the expert generation when it comes to technology. Businesses and managers should use this as an opportunity to harness technology in order to create differentiation in the market – particularly when trying to land customers or clients who may be Millennials themselves.
Myth #3: Millennials are impatient
Technology helps us work faster – and Millennials grew up with advanced technology. While this makes them more efficient (theoretically) it can also create impatience. In the workplace, Millennials tend to want constant feedback from their superiors, which can be both annoying and time-consuming for older managers. This is why it’s important for managers and owners to determine how much and what kind of feedback their employees need and expect, knowing it might be more than they would otherwise need (or like) to give.
Myth #4: Millennials are very needy
Millennials value the collaboration and diversity of thought that comes through working in groups. Managers should consider this when making business decisions or shaping their management style. (Something, by the way, you should be doing regardless).. Keep in mind that Millennials don’t want to be grouped into one category (like we’re doing here!) but identified as individuals with unique talents that, by working together, can produce the best result.
Conclusion: You need them
If you’re still “scared” of Millennials, it’s time to snap out of it. Your business depends on them for success. Not only are they the largest generation, but they’re also the largest part of the workforce AND the largest consumer demographic. Harnessing their perspective will can generate new ideas and methodologies and give you priceless firsthand experience about what your customers want. Millennial habits are already influencing markets all over the world, and they’re not stopping to let businesses adapt or for employers to change their practices. Instead, Millennials (as well as the Generation Z kids behind them) are becoming more and more willing to leave the “old ways” in the dust. That’s why it’s critical for you to make sure the “old way” isn’t your business.